Friday, 4 June 2010

Rio out, Drogba doubt for the World Cup Finals

What a bad weeked for England and the Ivory Coast.

Rio Ferdinand has succumbed to an eleventh hour injury with the tournament just a week away. It would have been his fourth World Cup, a new England record.

The England skipper sustained a knee injury in their first training session in Rustenburg in a clash with Emile Heskey. Michael Dawson's been drafted in as replacement; he's the fifth Tottenham player in Fabio Capello's 23-man squad.

Steven Gerrard steps upto take the vacant captain's armband for the first game against the USA next Saturday. But Ferdinand will stay with the England squad for the opener.

But while it's bad to lose your skipper, the England squad can cushion the blow. The Ivory Coast fear they've lost their chief talisman Drogba, the man who gave them a puncher's chance of winning it.

Drogba suffered an elbow injury during their warm-up game with Japan having just scored from a deflection. He's had a weekend operation and his recovery is described as encouraging.

The Chelsea striker, known for his high levels of fitness as the Blues marched to the Premier League title this season, is the difference between success and failure for Ivory Coast, pitted as they are in the Group Of Death with Portugal and Brazil.

Sven-Goran Eriksson can't possibly have a Plan B to replace their best player and one of the world's great strikers. Working with Drogba must have been a major consideration in Sven accepting the post in the first place.

Although given Eriksson's track record, you can expect Drogba to make some kind of appearance. Sven likes to strap up his big stars and play them irrespective of injury. Remember Rooney and his metatarsal ahead of Germany 2006?

Meanwhile, Holland's Arjen Robben sustained a hamstring in their last warm-up game but despite missing the squad plane to South Africa, he's expected to join up with the squad before the tournament gets underway.

Whoever you support, it's a bad day when the World Cup Finals is denied its best players.

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